Could Scots king be buried under the Post Office?

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A SCOTTISH king who ruled nearly 700 years ago could be buried beneath a Post Office in Doncaster town centre.

That’s the amazing verdict of historians and archaeologists who believe one time King of the Scots Edward Balliol could have his last resting place in the town.

The news comes hot on the heels of the discovery of the remains of English King Richard III beneath a car park in Leicester in a story that has gripped the globe.

And the news that we could be queuing up for books of stamps on the grave of a monarch of the glens adds further fuel to speculation that Doncaster could be part of Scotland.

Last year, the Free Press exclusively revealed how our town was seized by the Scots nearly 900 years ago - and may never have officially been handed back.

Now experts have discovered that Edward Balliol, who ruled north of the border from 1332-36, died in Doncaster, with speculation mounting about where his bones could be.

Peter Robinson, museums officer in human history at Doncaster Museum said: “We know that Edward Balliol lived here for a while and died here, but the location of where he was buried, and where his body is, are now are uncertain.
“It would be like looking for a needle in a haystack but not impossible for someone with the means and interest to be able to conduct enough research into where he might be.”

Edward, son of John Balliol, briefly ruled Scotland during the late Middle Ages, before being de-throned in 1336.

In later years, he lived in the Wheatley area of Doncaster - possibly in the medieval Wheatley Hall, roughly where the Parklands Sports and Social Club now lies on Wheatley Hall Road, and died here in 1367.

But that’s where the trail runs cold. There are no burial records and the location of his grave remains unknown - but Peter says there a number of locations in Doncaster where he could rest, including underneath the town’s main Post Office in Priory Place.

He said: “The current Post Office is built on top of a huge burial ground and at that time, that’s where a lot of eminent figures would have been laid to rest. At that time, the area was home to a large Carmelite friary and that’s one of the places where Edward could be buried.”

However, there are a number of other locations scattered across the borough where Edward’s remains could be - including Doncaster Minster and Conisbrough Castle.

Added Peter: “His mother was Isabella de Warenne, and the de Warenne family owned Conisbrough Castle so that’s another place that would fit the bill.

“One of the other most obvious locations would be the Minster as again, a lot of key figures would have been buried there.”

But like Richard III, whose remains were unearthed from beneath a car park, Edward too could be another monarch who shares his final resting place with scores of vehicles on a daily basis.

For another potential burial site could be the Greyfriars car park, sandwiched between the Church View Tesco supermarket and St George’s Bridge - also the site of a friary - hence the name - in bygone days.

Said Peter: “There is no archaeological evidence to say he is actually buried in Doncaster. There has never been any excavation which has turned up anything that suggests exactly where he may be buried.

“He may well have been taken and buried elsewhere, or even back to Scotland - this may just be one of those mysteries that remains forever unsolved.”

Historian Michael Brown of St Andrew’s University and an expert in Scottish history, said that Edward was not a key figure in the nation’s past, unlike Robert The Bruce and William Wallace.

He said: “He’s not really well known and there hasn’t been a great deal of research about the Balliol family in the past.

“We know that he was ejected from Scotland and spent time living in estates and castles in Yorkshire and the north east.

“Edward was never fully accepted as the Scottish king and he had to fight hard to be recognised as such. He was very much regarded as a puppet of the English king at the time and we do know he was regarded as a not very popular figure.”

Mr Brown added that the monarch was however regarded by historians as an “effective and energetic leader” and in his later years, broke into the Queen’s park near Knaresborough where he was caught poaching deer.

“He was certainly rough around the edges by all accounts and spent his retirement in and around the Doncaster area before his death at Wheatley.

The news strengthens Doncaster’s claim to be an enclave of Scotland with the town under Scottish rule for 21 years from 1136 to 1157. But while the town was officially signed over between the kings of England and Scotland, it seems it was never formally handed back.

Last year, tourism bosses were hopeful the revelation would spark a Tartan Army invasion.

Tourism manager Colin Joy said: “I love it - it is an intriguing story. It would be wonderful if Doncaster had its own answer to Richard III.”